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lected supplies and raised his subjects in their behalf: he was the first native baptized. The inhabitants of Tezcuco elected Atruaxpitzactzin in his stead, but the reign of this prince was even shorter than that of his predecessor, for he was immediately deposed by Cortez, and Ixtlilxochitl was made king. Up to this time the history before us has been extremely uncertain and superficial, the most important events being scarcely noticed, and indeed the whole record appearing to have been taken from report; but after the election of his ancestor our author evidently writes on sure ground. The most trivial circumstances are duly detailed; even conversations (though probably apocryphal, as in the commencement of all history) are recorded, and every omission made by other historians is satisfactorily supplied.
The army of the Spaniards and their allies was now so numerous as to justify a regular siege of the town of Mexico. With this view Cortez had caused three brigantines to be built in the mountains, and transported piecemeal to the neighbourhood of the lake, while his allies raised and armed their subjects to an extent hitherto unheard of in Mexico. Cohuanucoxtzin meanwhile was not inactive: he disputed every advance of the Spaniards with the utmost resolution, and even the most unimportant villages could not be taken without a desperate resistance and great slaughter. The carpenters and natives employed in building the brigantines were exposed to constant attacks; and as they transported their charge to the shore they were watched by a large party of the enemy, who hung about them ready for any opportunity that might offer; but being defended by several thousand warriors and some horsemen, and keeping a good lookout, they succeeded in their important task without much loss. Everything being ready for the siege of the capital, Cortez proceeded on the day after Whitsuntide to review the troops and dispose them for commencement of the attack. They consisted of 200,000 warriors and 50,000 workmen, subjects of Ixtlilxochitl, and 300,000 warriors of other states: the whole, with the Spaniards, forming an army of nearly 600,000 men. These be disposed in different quarters round the lake, intending to attack the town on all sides at once. Cortez himself took the command of the brigantines, while Ixtlilxochitl accompanied him with a flotilla of 16,000 canoes, containing 50,000 warriors and 8,000 chiefs of great name. To oppose this vast armament Cohanucoxtzin could only gather about 300,000 men; but he employed himself in fortifying the town as well as his knowledge would permit, and in arming and encouraging his subjects.
In the mean time he sent repeated messages to Ixtlilxochitl, reproaching him for his treachery to his country and family, and
exhorting him to return to his allegiance. Ixtlilxochitl replied that he wished to be the friend of the Spaniards; that he loved the faith they had introduced; and to sum up all, that he would die for them. The emperor was then summoned to surrender, the messenger pointing out to him the determination of Ixtlilxochitl, the dreadful power of the Spanish weapons, and the multitude of their forces; but Cohuanucoxtzin replied that he would rather die the defender of his country than live the subject of the Spanish king. Meanwhile Alvarado, the principal officer of Cortez, commenced an attack, and, after a desperate resistance from the Mexicans, succeeded in cutting off the aqueducts, and thus depriving the city of water.
On the 10th of May the order was given for a general attack, and Cortez proceeded in the brigantines to take the great rock which rose from the lake near the city: after a severe conflict the warriors who defended it were either killed or compelled to retreat to Mexico. The canoes of the emperor now advanced from the city towards the brigantines; but a breeze sprung up in a direction that impelled the brigantines towards Mexico, while it forced the flotilla to retreat to the city. The vessels of the Spaniards advanced in great numbers, and the Mexicans were obliged to quicken their flight, till in their hurry they became entangled with each other: the cannon of the invaders poured showers of shot upon them, the forces of Ixlilxochitl attacked them on all sides, and in spite of a gallant resistance on the Mexican side the slaughter was so great that the lake appeared one sea of blood. Meantime Alvarado and Christophe de Olid had forced their way over the causeways, and being joined by Cortez and his friends, forced the entrance of a temple and a large tower, and after a sanguinary conflict effected a lodgment in the interior and drove out the enemy. After a variety of petty successes during the space of several days, the party of the Spaniards made their way to the principal street of the town, and commenced the destruction of the houses. This was not effected without extreme difficulty and considerable loss: the inhabitants defended their houses resolutely, never relinquishing the ground till it was covered with dead, and launching showers of arrows upon the invaders from the neighbouring roofs. At length the latter forced their way to the great temple of Heutzilopoxtly, and here a desperate battle took place. The Spaniards were almost impenetrable to the weapons of their enemies, but the slaughter among their allies was tremendous. They however forced the defenders from their posts, and having gained the roof, proceeded to throw down the idols and to pillage the temple of its ornaments. Cortez seized the mask of gold from the principal figure, while Ixtlilxochitl
destroyed the images he had worshipped a short time before. In the midst of this scene the Mexicans rallied, charged their enemies with irresistible fury, and drove them from the temple. Cortez tried in vain to rally his followers: the assailants pressed so hard upon them that although they faced their pursuers they were driven down the street; and had not the prudence of Cortez placed reinforcements in some of the houses, the whole band would have been sacrificed. In the end, however, they repulsed the enemy with considerable slaughter, and effected their retreat. From this time the Spaniards gradually gained ground; but not a foot was yielded without a desperate struggle, and the siege was protracted to the period of eighty days.
The courage and perseverance of this long resistance must be estimated by the vast difference in the resources of the combatants. The Mexicans numbered in all 500,000 warriors, arined with clubs or wooden swords, arrows pointed with stone, and spears of wood hardened in the fire to form a point; and their only means of traversing the lake was by canoes of bark. The army of the invaders consisted, in the first place, of about 1000 Spanish troops clothed in quilted jackets, arrow proof, and nearly impenetrable to the wooden spears; many bore arquebusses or muskets; all carried swords and pistols; and some hundreds were horsemen, regularly disciplined and led by officers of military skill. The allies numbered nearly 600,000 men, armed in the same manner as their enemies, or in some cases with the weapons of the Christians. Cortez also possessed a considerable number of canoes and several brigantines, which necessarily gave him the command of the lake. Notwithstanding these overwhelming advantages on the side of the enemy, the emperor continued his defence with a gallantry worthy of a better fate, and to the hour of his death retained the noble pride which he had displayed from the commencement.
On the 12th of August a general attack was commenced on the last stronghold of the Mexicans; they had been driven closer and closer by the advances of the invader, till scarcely a remnant of the city remained in their power; and they now defended this spot with a resolution suitable to men whose all was staked on the result. At length the weakness of the defenders and the necessity of opposing with a considerable force the assaults of the Spaniards, compelled the former to leave a part of their works undefended; a number of the allies took advantage of this, and carried the strife within the walls: the Mexicans made a vigorous effort to repair the calamity, but their resistance necessarily weakened the defence of the walls; the allies stormed them at all points, poured in overwhelming numbers upon the defenders, and
changed the battle into a massacre. The horrors that ensued were such as even a captured town has seldom seen. Men, women, and children were slaughtered without mercy, and even Ixtlilxochitl confesses that the cruelties of the conquerors were such as the world has never witnessed. The few that remained of the Mexicans endeavoured to effect their retreat by means of the lake, and the Spaniards received information that the emperor was among the fugitives. A brigantine immediately sailed in pursuit and overtook the canoe in which he had taken refuge. Cuahtimoctzin, when he found himself discovered, ordered his boatmen to turn and give battle to the enemy; but when he perceived the great superiority of his pursuers, and that resistance could only produce a useless loss of life, he surrendered himself to the Spaniards and was taken before the general. Cortez, struck with the native loftiness of his captive, received him with great courtesy; but the emperor took the dagger from the Spaniard's side, and presenting it to him, said, "I have done my utmost to protect my kingdom and to save it from your power; but fortune has been against me: now take my life, and you will do well. You will put an end to the dynasty of Mexico, after having destroyed its capital and massacred its subjects." Cortez addressed some words of comfort to the monarch, and begged him to prevent more bloodshed by commanding some of his people, who still resisted, to surrender. Cuahtemoctzin gave the requisite orders, when about 60,000 warriors yielded themselves prisoners, being the sole remnant of 300,000 who had defended Mexico.
We have hitherto seen Cortez principally in the character of a soldier; and though some traits of an unscrupulous nature have appeared, they have been in some degree justified either by necessity or by the conduct of his enemies. But after the reduction of the capital he seems to have thrown off a mask which interest alone had compelled him to wear, and to have appeared in his native character of treachery, rapacity, and cruelty. From the presents sent to them on their first landing the Spaniards had formed high and romantic notions of the boundless wealth of the country they had come to subdue, and various incidents which had happened during the war had tended to confirm these hopes. The capital was naturally supposed to be the centre of the opulence of the empire, and each soldier looked upon it as a mine from the veins of which all his dangers and labours were to be recompensed. What therefore was their disappointment on discovering that a few ornaments of little value constituted the whole exchequer of the much-coveted city! All supposed that the emperor had concealed his wealth either in the waters of the lake
or in some place of equal security; and as inquiries were found insufficient to draw the secret from the captive, torture, the last and worst resource of tyranny, was employed.
Historians in general relate, that one of the highest officers of Cuahtemoctzin was selected to be his companion in suffering; and while the limbs of the emperor were shattered by an iron bar, those of his servant were consumed by fire. In the midst of his agony the latter cried aloud to his master, entreating him to reveal the required secret, but Cuahtemoctzin, turning his head towards his officer, coolly asked him if he thought his king was on a bed of roses? Steeled by this reproof, the heroic native closed his lips, and died in silence. Cortez, induced by remorse, or perhaps by the intercession of his allies, at length gave orders to spare what little of life remained to the emperor.
Such is the version given by most historians of this revolting transaction but our author asserts, that the interference of Ixtlilxochitl saved the lives of both the servant and his master. The prince also, it appears, endeavoured to gain the liberation of Cuahtemoctzin, but Cortez required so large a ransom that Ixtlilxochitl was compelled not only to relinquish the spoils he had obtained for himself, but to collect all the gold in the possession of his family, before he could satisfy his rapacious friend. The emperor was removed to Tezcuco, where he was cured by the care of his subjects. Our author proceeds with a minute description of the proceedings of the conquerors in the subjugation of the various provinces of the empire, in all of which he was assisted by the prince; indeed, from the account of his grandson it would appear, that Ixtlilxochitl was in the habit of following his ally like a shadow, and the author seems remarkably fond of enlarging upon the affection which subsisted between them; often speaking of them as Cortez and his dear Ixtlilxochitl, though the former takes every opportunity of hanging the brothers of the latter, a singular proof of affection.
It is to be remarked that the Spanish historians have taken so little notice of our hero, that in some of the best records his name is not even mentioned; this is owing, it appears, to the policy of Cortez and his countrymen, who conceived that their deeds would sound much better if performed by their unassisted valour, than with the effective aid of 600,000 allies. On the other hand, we must not receive too readily the various statements of an author anxious to extol the character of his ancestor; and the tone assumed by the prince through the whole work is scarcely consistent either with the tenor of his own acts, or the character of the Spanish general. Cortez was not the man to permit the independent authority which appears in Ixtlilxochitl, nor are there